MIDLAND COUNTY, Texas (Nexstar) – Primary elections have wrapped up in the basin.
Some key races were decided on March 1. Other races are heading to a runoff election on May 24.
“Voting means so much. Being a woman, being African-American, we’ve been fighting for our rights for so long,” said Midland resident Beverly Harrison. “So I try to get out and vote every chance that I get.”
“(Voting) is very important because if you don’t vote, then we can’t say anything about who got into office, can we?” Midland resident Pat Engle mused.
“Election Day always ends up being a little crazy,” said Carolyn Graves, Midland County Elections Administrator.
Graves said a new voter law, called SB1, proved to be a small challenge this election cycle.
“I think ‘roadblock’ would be an excellent word for SB1,” Graves said.
SB1 is a newly-enacted law to prevent fraud during elections. Voters are required to put their social security number, driver’s license number, or state identification number on their ballot. There is an option to mark if a voter has none of the aforementioned options available.
The ballot will be rejected if the identifying information is omitted or if no option is marked.
Graves said the Midland County Elections Office called and emailed countless voters to alert them of that missing information. If voters cannot be reached by phone or email, then they are sent physical mail alerting them of the mistake. Voters have until March 8th to come by the Midland County Annex, (2110 N A St # 111, Midland, TX 79705), to list that required information in their ballot.
Then, the voter’s ballot will return to the ballot board for approval. If approved, the vote will count.
Graves said the Midland County Elections Office has been able to reach a large number of affected voters.
“We’ve already re-approved about 60 (ballots) of the 189,” Graves said.
When ballots are missing required information, it can be a time-consuming process to track down the contact information of voters to inform them of the mistake. Sometimes, voters do not list a phone number or email on their ballot, Graves said.
Regardless, Graves wants new voters to be aware of the new law moving forward.
“As we reminded them as they came in, this is something that is here to stay… that they are going to have to do every time,” Graves continued.
Beverly Harrison, a Midland resident and voter, weighed in on the new forms.
“Usually when I go vote, I try to take my mom. She’s in her 90s. So when you have fine print, it kind of hinders the older people,” Harrison said. “(People don’t) feel comfortable putting out their information, their social security. Like, you don’t just give it out. And sometimes I feel like they make it hard when they really should just be trying to get people’s input.”
The County Elections Office plans on increased public education as November’s General Election nears.
There is something important to note: the new voter law has ramifications.
Graves said the new voter law required the Election’s Office to buy new voting forms. The cost of postage has increased from 55 cents to 73 cents per envelope. That makes for a 33% increase for that election expense because of the new, larger carrier envelopes.
Meantime, local candidates have 14 days to remove political campaign advertisements in Midland.
In Ector County, local candidates have 10 days to remove political campaign advertisements.
There is a special election on May 7. The primary runoff election is on May 24.
Graves also said, poll workers have made a lot possible during this election cycle, so their services are more than appreciated.